Senior Citizens and Bankruptcy

For too many years the press has painted a false picture of the people who file for bankruptcy.  If you have read the mainstream press articles on bankruptcy written during the last few years, you are probably convinced that the typical bankruptcy filer is young or early middle-aged, who is at Starbucks every morning and out to dinner every night and has to have every new gadget on the market.  In other words, young, short-sighted spendthrifts.

There is just one problem with that picture.  Those people aren’t my clients, and there aren’t a lot of them at 341 dockets either.  Finally, the mainstream press is starting to figure this out.  Today, USAToday ran an article pointing out that Senior Citizens are filing for bankruptcy in increasing numbers.

Well, DUH.

Let’s think about this for a minute.  What has happened to health care costs over the last few years?  How about food and energy costs?  Ok, so consider what percentage of a retiree’s income is consumed by those expenses?

Every age group under 55 has seen double-digit declines in their bankruptcy filing rates since 1991.  Every age group over 55 has not.  In fact, since 1991 filings for people between the ages of 55 and 64 is up 40%.  For 65 – 74 year-olds, it is up 125%; and for 75-84-year-olds the filing rate is up a staggering 433%.

So, the next time AARP tries to get you to join; ask them if they have added a benefit to provide Bankruptcy representation.

Elaine Dowling

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